Connecting their home with history: Couple gives new life to Glenville house

Published 10:08 am Wednesday, November 1, 2023

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

GLENVILLE — Tarrah Sather of Glenville has always had an affinity for old buildings and homes.

“I can remember that from a very young age, and Albert Lea has a lot of that,” she said. “I’ve always loved our town for that.”

A lover of architecture and historical preservation, she remembers her mom having her father take her to the Biltmore Estate when she was 8 because she knew she would like it.

Email newsletter signup

Now, she has taken that passion and put it to use as she and her husband, Cam, have remodeled their historic home in Glenville. The home was one of seven open for display through the Freeborn County Historical Museum’s home tour at the beginning of October.

Sather said she and her husband began house hunting without a particular age of house in mind.

“I just knew that I wanted it to be a house where we could put our stamp on it, and it could be a little bit of a project so we could have control over how it ended up,” she said.

They had two other houses in Albert Lea they were considering, but they were more expensive. Then they found the house in Glenville on First Avenue Southeast, which was significantly cheaper, but larger and with more yard.

When they saw the house, which was built from 1897 to 1900, she said it was in rough shape cosmetically but overall there weren’t any structural issues or other problems.

They took ownership of the house in 2017, and within a couple weeks, she said she had already heard the rumor that their house had been a former stage coach stop.

“That got my mind churning about the history and what that meant,” she said.

A few weeks later as she was looking on Instagram to get ideas for the house, she said a spark went off that she should find a picture of her house. She remembered she had a book that included history of the area, and in it she was pleased to find their new house, which was referred to as the Lackey House. Ida Lackey was the name of the little girl in the photo, and her maiden name was Morrison. Her father, Fred Morrison, was also in the photo, along with other family members.

Sather said she started with the Census, found the ages of the people on there and then was able to figure out the photograph was likely taken in 1900. The home had been built by Christopher Tapager, who went on through Tapager Construction Co. to build the historic Freeborn National Bank building in Albert Lea.

She then went on through to review old newspaper articles, and through happenings reported in the newspapers was able to find out more about the family. The girl’s uncle was a butcher, while her father was a merchant. He also owned Commercial Hotel at one point.

Sather said Fred Morrison’s wife, Ella, came to the area in a covered wagon.

There were also happenings in the newspapers of parties and events that took place in the house.

The home became a restaurant, The Old Homestead Inn, in 1932 and was home to many other stories throughout the years as well.

“Once I had the picture and I was thinking about the people, I just felt incredibly lucky or grateful for the newspaper journalists,” she said. “I kept saying, how cool that this exists. I think it’s so cool that we can go back and put ourselves in these people’s shoes in a way.”

The house was built during the end of the Victorian era, but she described it as being more Folk Victorian.

She said they drew inspiration from that era, but noted many of the colors they used were more common with Queen Anne and Painted Lady houses.

She said not a single room looks the way it did when they first got the house — all of the rooms feature rich color, there is some new flooring and restored flooring in parts, and the kitchen and bathroom have been updated. The at one time all-white house with black shutters on the outside has been transformed into a rich, dark color with golden yellow as accents.

The daughter of Andrea Hall, who co-owns The Vintage Grove Co. in Clarks Grove, Sather said she was able to find a lot of their furniture from her mother’s store and estate sales. She also received a few pieces from her grandmother.

Most of the doors and drawers of the kitchen cabinets came from a house in Northwood from one of her mom’s estate sales. She said they were talking about taking the cabinets down, so they offered to take them down themselves and then brought them over to their house and reworked them a bit to look a little more Victorian. They also found some pieces for the kitchen from a building in downtown Albert Lea.

Though the house has not been restored in exactness and there are many things in the house that changed from their original state, she said she always tried to keep a lot of the history in mind as they made their choices.

And for that rumor that their house was a stage coach stop?

Sather said she found writings that say it wasn’t true.